There are few worse ways to awake a person than with a needle stick in the arm to draw blood. If you have ever spent the night in a hospital, chances are the first thing that happened in the morning was a vampiric nurse or lab technician, following doctor’s orders, standing over your bed and greeting you with a needle and a set of vials.

Most of us just grit our teeth, maybe close our eyes, and deal with it. After all, these tests are critical for our health, right?

Actually, as many as half of labs ordered may not be necessary. Cutting back can not only minimize the ouch but can also help lower costs. A group of colleagues and I have looked into this issue, and we found some interesting conclusions.